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A.I. helps Oscar the chatbot answer 75 percent of travel questions

Air New Zealand

Chatbots are only programmed to understand so many things but one travel chatbot named Bravo Oscar Tango has used artificial intelligence to go from answering just seven percent of questions to 75 percent. Air New Zealand recently brought Oscar the chatbot to the U.S. and Canada after first launching the chatbot in New Zealand and Australia.

Now, Oscar is used for more than a 1,000 conversations a day on both the airline’s website and mobile app. Because Oscar is built on artificial intelligence, the more the program is used, the more accurate and conversational Oscar gets.

“Artificial intelligence has not only given our customers another quick and convenient way for them to interact with us and get travel information, but Oscar has also freed up our customer service agents to focus on handling more complex queries. Oscar has gone down well in Australasia and we’re now excited to release him to North America. We’re hoping the Americans and Canadians find Oscar as useful as the Kiwis and Aussies have,” Avi Golan, the chief digital officer at Air New Zealand, said in a statement.

Oscar is designed to answer some of the airlines most frequently asked questions, all designed into an instant, chat-like platform. As users type, the chatbot will also suggest questions. If Oscar needs clarification, he’ll ask and pop-up buttons allow travelers to skip the typing. Answers also can include links to pages with related information. 

The airline says the bot both helps save time and offers a more personalized experience. Oh, and he can also sing and tell jokes.

Oscar isn’t the first travel-focused chatbot either. Lufthansa also has a bot named Mildred. And Expedia’s chatbot can help travelers out through Skype. Hostbot even allows Airbnb hosts to create automated travel chat questions. 

Air New Zealand’s flight network includes New Zealand, Australia, the South West Pacific, Asia, North America, South America and the U.K. Along with Oscar, the airline’s mobile app for iOS and Android also includes real-time flight data, digital tickets, boarding passes, and flight booking. The app will even help travelers determine when to pack and pre-order coffee from a lounge area.

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